University students insist on tram fare discount as city council calculates system costs
A group representing students from four Cuenca universities are demanding that the half-fare student discount that applies to public buses also apply to the tram. Under an existing agreement, the city subsidizes the public bus discount for students, the disabled and the elderly.
According to municipal councilman Omar Álvarez, the fare discounts must be considered when calculating the full fare that other tram riders will pay. “We provide the discount for buses so it seems appropriate that we also offer it for the tranvia,” he said. “If we do, however, we need to look at the impact on overall costs.”
Álvarez added that he believes offering a student subsidy will not be a major expense. “The estimate we have is that only five percent of riders will be students. This will change in the future when we add additional train lines to serve UDA [Universidad de of Azuay] and UPS [Universidad Politecnica Salesiana].”
In addition to the student demand, the municipal council also discussed using a single payment card for both the bus and the tram. Under previous plans, the tram was to begin operations with a separate card. As with the bus system, the tram will not accept cash. In a tentative agreement with bus owners, city officials agreed to a single card. “Since we are talking about an integrated transportation system, one card for buses and the tram makes sense even if we have to pay more to convert the tram payment machines,” said Cuenca Vice-Mayor Iván Abril.